CORONAVIRUS:

 What You Need To Know

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The Latest from News 96.5 WDBO

    Leaders in Seminole County announced the sudden closure of all boat ramps due to “irresponsible boaters,” indefinite and effective immediately. On Twitter, the Seminole County government published an image taken that Saturday in Geneva of a group, enumerating at least twenty people, who had gathered on boats in the Saint Johns River in violation of CDC guidelines now respected by every community in the union: Mobile users, see tweet here. In Orange County, all 11 public boat ramps were similarly closed late last month on March 22. Twitters users responded to Seminole County’s message Saturday with a mix of reactions, a few ambivalent to the dangers of social gatherings during the pandemic, but most aggravated at how the actions of some can impact the community as a whole: Mobile users, see tweet here. Mobile users, see tweet here. Mobile users, see tweet here. Seminole County has not issued a re-opening date for their boat ramps. More information can be found by visiting PrepareSeminole.org, or by calling 407-665-0000 from 8am to 5pm.
  • Many Floridians are still expected to commute during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, so it’s always beneficial to know which ramps and roads on and around I-4 will be out of order, and when. Here’s the latest. :: Ramps- Westbound off ramp to John Young Pkwy., closed from 8pm to 5am until after April 8. Eastbound off ramp to Amelia St., closed until further notice. Click or tap here for more details on the Florida Department of Transportation’s website (this link opens a PDF file). Westbound off ramp to Anderson St., closed from 8pm to 5am until after April 11. Westbound on ramp from Fairbanks Ave., closed Sunday to Friday from 8pm to 6am until after April 9. Westbound off ramp to Princeton St., closed from 9pm to 6am until after April 9.    Eastbound on ramp from Princeton St., closed from 9am to 3pm until after April 7. :: Roads- Both directions of Amelia St. under I-4, closed until further notice. Click or tap here for more details on the Florida Department of Transportation’s website (this link opens a PDF file). Westbound Central Blvd., closed from 8pm to 6am until after April 6. Both directions of Division Ave. from Gore St. to Anderson St., closed from 8pm to 6am until after April 7. Both directions of Wymore Rd. from Riddle Dr. to Fairbanks Ave., closed until further notice. :: Lanes- Two right lanes in both directions of SR-434 under I-4, closed from 8pm to 6am until after April 9. I-4 Westbound lanes- Two right lanes from Colonial Dr. to Sand Lake Rd., closed from 8pm to 8am until after April 18. Two left lanes from Maitland Blvd. to Kirkman Rd., closed from 8pm to 8am until after April 18. Two right lanes from SR-434 to Orange Blossom Trail, closed from 8pm to 8am until after May 1. One right lane on the off ramp to Lee Rd., closed from 9am to 3pm until after April 10. One right lane from Fairbanks Ave. to Par St., closed from 10am to 3pm until after April 11. One right lane on the on ramp from Princeton St., closed from 9am to 3pm until after April 10. One left lane on the off ramp to Princeton St., closed from 9am to 3pm until after April 8. Two right lanes from E. E. Williamson Rd. to Ivanhoe Blvd., closed from 8pm to 8am until after May 1. One right lane on the off ramp to SR-436, closed from 8am to 4:30pm until after April 8. One right lane from Hope Rd. to Maitland Summit Blvd., closed from 9am to 3pm until after April 10. I-4 Eastbound lanes- Two left lanes from Sand Lake Rd. to Colonial Dr., closed from 8pm to 8am until after April 18. Two left lanes from Kirkman Rd. to Maitland Blvd., closed from 8pm to 8am until after April 18. Two right lanes from Orange Blossom Trail to SR-434, closed from 8pm to 8am until after May 1. Two right lanes from Ivanhoe Blvd. to E. E. Williamson Rd., closed from 8pm to 8am until May 1. :: Details and detour maps provided by the Florida Department of Transportation, District 5.
  • Many people have complained about the trouble they have had filing for unemployment benefits on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website. Some say the site kept crashing on them, or if they tried to use the phones, they would spend hours on it to no avail. In response to this, DEO director Ken Lawson has issued an apology during a virtual town hall meeting this week and has said they will now use paper applications to help work through the backlog. However, one thing they stress on the website is that if you do choose to use the paper application process, it could take even longer to process than the online application.  You can access the paper application in three different languages, along with the mailing address here.
  • During a meeting with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings Friday afternoon, he said there are nearly 600 cases of COVID-19 in the county alone.  Dr. Raul Pino says that over 6,000 tests have been conducted for the virus and that he projects that the number of positive cases could reach 1,000 by next Friday. As a way of keeping track of 'hot spots' where the cases are spreading, they have released a 'heat map', which shows the total number of positive cases, as well as those persons who are being monitored or under investigation as a potential case.  You can see the map and the affected zip codes here. Meanwhile in Seminole County, there are nearly 200 confirmed cases and only one death related to the virus. The Seminole County Emergency Operations Center is operating at Level 1 and has also released a hot spot map, but it is not clear if this is based on zip codes or municipalities. There are also no definitive numbers released on the map yet.   
  • The University of Central Florida east Orlando campus will open Orange County’s second drive-thru testing site for COVID-19. From UCF: A drive-through site where members of the community with an appointment can be tested for COVID-19 will open at UCF on Monday, April 6.  The site is a partnership between UCF and Aventus Biolabs, a private genetics testing lab owned and operated by Aventus Health, a healthcare company with headquarters in Orlando. Individuals must have an appointment in order to receive a test, which will be administered in UCF’s Garage A, located at 12491 University Boulevard, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (appointments may end before 5 p.m. if the daily appointments are filled earlier). Those who do not have an appointment will be turned away. To secure an appointment and have a test ordered for them, individuals must contact Aventus by calling 855-282-4860. Providers will screen patients for symptoms and issue an order form if they qualify for testing. UCF students can obtain an ordered test from Student Health Services telehealth by calling 407-823-2701. UCF faculty and staff members can obtain their ordered test from their primary care provider by contacting UCF Health at 407-266-3627. After the patient has been screened by a provider, Aventus’ client services team will reach out to complete all necessary paperwork and schedule an appointment for testing. Upon arrival during a scheduled time, individuals will drive through and receive the testing with a swab designated specifically for them. The average test takes about 10 minutes or less from the start of the appointment. The efficiency of this process will allow for individuals to receive their test results in about 24 to 48 hours. However, it is critical that appointments are made ahead of time, as this process does not allow for unscheduled testing.  Aventus has capacity to test about 250 people per day. The individuals who qualify for testing at UCF may not meet all of the criteria required by the Florida Department of Health in order to be tested at a county testing site, but still have been prescreened for symptoms and advised by healthcare providers to be tested. To learn more about COVID-19 and how testing is performed, visit Aventus’ site at https://www.aventushealth.com. UCF is regularly sharing information about COVID-19’s impact to university operations here: https://www.ucf.edu/safety/coronavirus/.
  • The break-in was in the middle of the night. Jenny Hackney, owner of Gratitude Coffee in College Park, told News 96.5 WDBO how her cafe was burglarized and trashed last month.  “The first night of the curfew, they came in the back door. I had a tray of pastries in my left hand, [and] as I unlocked the door, I saw just a mess everywhere,” said Hackney. Hackney says they caught the man on a camera from another business a couple of doors down. It was a man who had been in her shop a week before.  “He was in my shop, he was acting a little erratic and I had never seen him before. I gave him a free cup of coffee and he went to sit down and I stopped him and I said no one can stay it’s only takeout. He thought I was being critical of his appearance. I wasn’t. It was because of the virus,” said Hackney. Her most significant loss from the burglary was something of sentimental value. “But the saddest thing was he took my first-generation iPad. It’s got pictures of my son’s wedding and pictures of my beloved dogs that died. And all kinds of stuff that means something.”  When Hackney posted an update on Instagram saying her shop would be closed for the day, the community quickly came to her rescue. She received text messages, phone calls and nearly twenty people came out to help clean up!  “Somebody came from The Glass Knife—I’d never met them before—he was the Director of Operations, and he gave me five big bags of coffee and four gallons of milk because they saw my post online and they wanted to support me,” said Hackney. Rob Chase, the owner of Digress Wine, let her borrow his dehumidifier.  “I just happened to be driving by and I noticed her outside, which was odd. I checked in and the poor place was just trashed. She’s been a huge component of my success here, with caffeination. We have a great little community down here. Before we knew it, there were probably a dozen people out here helping,” said Chase.  “Everybody just wrapped me up with love and support—it was nice,” Hackney said with a smile.
  • The Walt Disney Company has announced it will furlough “employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” beginning April 19, a spokesperson said Thursday. It is the world’s largest single-site employer, with more than 75,000 people working for them in Central Florida. It is the second major theme park in Central Florida to announce mass furloughs, following SeaWorld last week. Walt Disney World has been paying most of its employees for weeks since the parks shut down March 16, and the hotels March 20. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits until April 19, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation. Furloughed employees will remain Disney employees during the furlough, and will receive full health care benefits. Those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program. “I thought I was safe from it all and then today I’m just sitting there and then this pops up and then instantly like, ‘What am I going to do?’” said Caroline Suddeth, a Disney employee who is set to be furloughed. In an internal letter WFTV obtained from a cast member, the company said it is instituting a temporary, short-term furlough for executive, salaried and non-union hourly cast members. Suddeth falls in that category. “I instantly was like, 'OK, well, how am I supposed to pay my rent because I just signed a lease on a new apartment,” she said. Employees with available paid time off can elect to use some of it at the start of the furlough period, the spokesperson said. Once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance. Disney said in the internal letter that “the furlough allows us to preserve the jobs of cast members who are and will continue to be an important part of the Disney family, and provide an easier return to work when our communities recover from the impact of COVID-19.” Suddeth said she plans to file for unemployment immediately. “I guess I am just playing the waiting game at this point, just hoping they are going to call us back in a month or so and let us know that we have to go back to work,” she said. “It’s all just waiting now.” Disney is set to have a meeting with unions today. Additionally, starting Sunday, April 5, 2020 Disney will stop automatic payments for annual passholders on the monthly payment plan.  This will continue while the parks are closed.  Payments will continue once the parks re-open but Disney will not extend the expiration dates. Disney says guests can instead choose to extend the expiration date on the pass by the number of days the park remains closed. Passholders will be able to select their preferred option on the passport account or by calling 407-939-7277.
  • After weeks at sea and being turned away from other countries, two cruise ships were given the OK to dock in Fort Lauderdale Thursday afternoon. The Zaandam and Rotterdom both docked Thursday afternoon. Among the passengers on the Zaandam were Jim Wing and his wife Mount Dora, who were traveling for her birthday. “It was supposed to be a birthday celebration of my stepmother Colleen, and it’s turned into a nightmare,” said Nate Wing, Jim Wing’s son, from his home in Windermere. Passengers who aren’t sick were given the OK to be escorted off but not allowed to have contact with other people. Those who do have symptoms are not allowed to leave, including Jim Wing of Mount Dora. His family’s cruise ship was turned away in Chile, and was nearly kept from passing through the Panama Canal. Four people aboard have died from COVID-19, and passengers have been quarantined. Jim and Colleen live in Mount Dora. The cruise ship is looking to dock Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, but there is uncertainty if the ship will even be allowed to come in. On Tuesday, Gov. Ron. DeSantis expressed concern about stress on local health care resources, saying, “I think these are mostly foreign nationals that would use resources we need for Floridians.” On Wednesday, DeSantis said, “Clearly we’re going to be willing to accept any Floridians on board. My understanding is most passengers are foreign nationals.” President Donald Trump weighed in as well, saying we must show humanity. “There are people who are sick on the ships,” Trump said. The 77-year-old has a heart condition and has been sick with flu like symptoms for about a week and is believed to have COVID-19. “It’s really tough. My father’s been really sick, and they happen to be in an inside stateroom, too,” Nate said. Nate has started a petition that he said will hopefully lead the governor or Broward County officials to make the call to allow the ship in so he can see his parents get home, and so his father can get the medical attention he needs. “These are real people, real lives, not just them, but everyone on that boat,' Nate said. The ship, owned by the world’s biggest cruise operator, Carnival, was turned away from Brazil and other South American ports nearly two weeks ago. The company said it had 6,000 passengers stuck at sea. And yet another cruise ship is still at sea waiting for permission to dock in Fort Lauderdale. Princess cruise line’s Coral Princess was turned away from Brazil and other South American ports nearly two weeks ago, 12 people on board are have tested positive for COVID-19. The company said it had 6,000 passengers stuck at sea, all are self-isolating in their rooms.
  • The lights in the windows of Disney’s Contemporary Resort form the shape of a heart and a Mickey is shaped on the Bay Lake Tower. The photos captured by Thomas Radzak were shared on his twitter page. This photo of a heart standing tall over downtown Orlando was captured by News 96.5 WDBO’s own Joe Kelley.  The show of love and solidarity is lighting up the night skies across the nation as Americans creatively reach out to each other in this new world of social-distancing. On social media #aworldofhearts is trending with pictures of hearts in all sizes and colors posted in the windows of houses, hospitals, apartments and nursing homes.  A public Facebook group called Heart Hunters has nearly 700,000 members who are “trying to spread a little love and compassion.”  Both were inspired by a post suggesting people put hearts in windows for kids to see while out walking and also give them a craft to work on at home.  People are being encouraged to post their messages online so everyone, even those who cannot go outside, can see them.  Be prepared to smile and possibly shed a tear if you take an hour or so to scroll through some of the heartfelt inspiration, which doesn’t always come in the form of a heart - but from the heart. Take a look at this post from Rocio N John Teliha who thought her 11-year-old son was just practicing on his trumpet, then noticed he played The Star Spangled Banner at 6:30 p.m. each day.  App users click here to see the video.  When she finally asked him why, she said his answer “melted my heart.” He told her he played to show hope and let everyone know we will be okay.
  • Six time Super Bowl winning quarterback Brady has arrived in Tampa Bay and is moving his family into a lavish, 30,000-square foot mansion on Davis Island built by former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the home features seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, an entertainment room and billiards room that wraps around a pool with two boat lifts providing access to Tampa Bay.  Jeter is now part owner of the Miami Marlins and has been living and working in south Florida for the past couple of years.  Brady recently signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's that includes nearly $9 million in performance incentives.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Seminole County deputies said they found trafficking amounts of heroin and cocaine after detectives found a stolen car Thursday morning at a Florida home. Deputies said cash and several handguns were also seized at the home in unincorporated Lake Mary. A baby alligator was also being kept illegally in the home, deputies said. Four suspects are facing several felony charges. “Make no mistake, any criminals thinking they can use our coronavirus emergency to take advantage know that our dedicated men and women are keeping our neighborhoods safe,” said Sheriff Dennis Lemma.
  • More than 1.2 million people worldwide – including more than 312,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, April 5, continue below:  Italy sees lowest death rate in weeks Update 8:56 p.m. EDT April 5: Health officials believe the curve is flattening in Italy where the country recorded its lowest death rate in nearly two weeks. Italy’s Civil Protection Service said Sunday 525 people died in a 24-hour period, the lowest since March 19 when 427 people died, The Associated Press reported. “The curve, which had been plateauing for days, is starting to descend,' health officials Silvio Brusaferro said Sunday. More than 15,800 people have died from the virus in Italy, according to Johns Hopkins virus tracking site. There are more than 128,000 confirmed cases. The country recorded more than 4,300 new cases Sunday. However, that number is a decrease from earlier in the outbreak when daily cases topped 6,000.The country has been on lockdown for nearly four weeks. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Washington sending 400 ventilators from national stockpile to New York Update 7:56 p.m. EDT April 5: Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington will be returning more than 400 ventilators from the federal government to help the state of New York, which is experiencing a higher number of coronavirus cases. 'I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks,' Inslee said. The ventilators were sent from the Strategic National Stockpile, KIRO-TV reported. Washington recently purchased more than 750 of its own ventilators that will arrive over the next several weeks. “Thanks to the mitigation efforts the governor has put in place and the cooperation of Washingtonians, we have seen fewer infections in our communities than anticipated. Our current status allows us to help others who have a more immediate need,' said Raquel Bono, a former vice admiral and director of Washington state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management. There are more than 7,400 confirmed cases and 319 deaths in Washington state, according to The New York Times. In New York state, there are more than 122,500 confirmed cases and 4,159 deaths. Boris Johnson admitted to hospital with virus Update 6:06 p.m. EDT April 5: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday because of the coronavirus. He went to the hospital because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus, The Associated Press reported. Officials said the move is a “precautionary step,” the BBC reported. Johnson is expected to stay overnight. Johnson, 55, has been quarantined since testing positive March 26. Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for virus  Update 4:56 p.m. EDT April 5: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. It is believed the big cat was exposed to the virus by an employee at the zoo, accoridng to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several lions and tigers were showing symptoms of the virus March 27, but only the one tested positive. All of the big cats are expected to recover. The zoo has been closed to the public since about mid-March. Other animals in the zoo are not showing signs of the virus. Death Valley National Park temporarily closes Update 3:26 p.m. EDT April 5: Death Valley National Park has been temporarily closed, effective Saturday due to public health concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, the National Park Service said on its website. The National Park Service said Daylight Pass and California highway 190 will remain open at the park, which is located in California and Nevada. The order means all park facilities, restrooms, viewpoints, trails, roads, and campgrounds are closed until further notice, according to the website. Fauci says coronavirus could become seasonal Update 3:11 p.m. EDT April 5: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. said there is a very good chance the new coronavirus “will assume a seasonal nature” because it is unlikely the disease will be under control globally. “Unless we get this globally under control, there’s a very good chance that it will assume a seasonal nature,” Fauci, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,' said Sunday. “We need to be prepared, that since it unlikely would be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into (the) next (flu) season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence.” Trump approves disaster declarations for Delaware, South Dakota Update 2:06 p.m. EDT April 5: President Donald Trump approved disaster declarations for Delaware and South Dakota, according to CNN. The president has now approved disaster declarations for 42 states, the U.S. Virgin islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Navy captain relieved of aircraft carrier command tests positive Update 12:46 p.m. EDT April 5: Brett E. Crozier, the Navy captain removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive for COVID-19, The New York Times reported, citing who was removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, The New York Times reported, citing two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier’s who are close to him and his family. A Navy spokesman declined comment on the captain’s status, the newspaper reported. Crozier was removed from the warship Thursday. He was fired after the San Francisco Chronicle reported Crozier emailed a letter to Navy leaders that listed failures in providing necessary resources to disinfect the ship as the virus spread through it, the Times reported. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” there were 155 confirmed coronavirus cases among sailors aboard the aircraft carrier. “There is an investigation ongoing,” Esper said on “State of the Union.” “All the services at times relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation up front because they’ve lost confidence in them. It’s certainly not unique to the Navy.” NJ governor says state has secured 500 ventilators Update 12:14 p.m. EDT April 5: In a tweet Sunday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said his state has secured about 500 additional ventilators after having “multiple” conversations with the White House. “Ventilators are our No. 1 need right now,” Murphy tweeted. “I won’t stop fighting to get us the equipment we need to save every life we can.” Queen Elizabeth II: 'History will remember your actions’ Update 10:44 a.m. EDT April 5: Queen Elizabeth II, making a rare address to the nation, is expected to urge citizens in the United Kingdom to exercise discipline and resolve during the coronavirus crisis. Normally the queen, now 93, makes one speech annually, but this will be the second in two months, the BBC reported. 'I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time,” she said, according to excerpts obtained by The Associated Press. “A time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” The queen has given an address like this on only three other occasions, according to the AP: After the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, before the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997, and during first Gulf War in 1991. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” the queen said in remarks that will be broadcast Sunday night. “Those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.” ‘Hardest and saddest’ week ahead, surgeon general says Update 10:26 a.m. EDT April 5: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the upcoming week will be the “hardest and the saddest” for Americans. Adams, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” characterized the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic as a “Pearl Harbor moment” and a “9/11 moment.” “I want Americans to understand that as hard as this week is going to be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Adams said on the news program. DC, Maryland, Virginia see increase in cases Update 10:10 a.m. EDT April 5: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in the area around Washington, D.C. Sunday morning, there were 6.422 cases in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, The Washington Post reported. There were 3,126 cases in Maryland, 2,410 in Virginia and 906 in the District of Columbia, the newspaper reported. The total of virus-related deaths stood at 126 -- 52 in Virginia, 53 in Maryland and 21 in D.C. Pastor at Falwell’s church tests positive Update 8:59 a.m. EDT April 5: Charles Billingsley, worship leader of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, tested positive for the coronavirus, Pastor Jonathan Falwell told WDBJ. Falwell posted the announcement on his Facebook page Saturday. He says Billingsley’s symptoms are mild and he is getting better each day. Legendary NFL kicker Tom Dempsey dies from complications Update 8:42 a.m. EDT April 5: Former NFL placekicker Tom Dempsey, who set an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 1970, died Saturday from complications from the coronavirus, his family said. He was 73. Dempsey contracted COVID-19 in March during an outbreak at a New Orleans retirement home, NOLA.com reported. He is one of 15 residents at the home to die from the virus. Dempsey was born without fingers on his right hand and wore a small, flat shoe on his kicking foot, the website reported. His record-setting field goal, on the last play of the game against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 8, 1970, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, helped the Saints rally to a 19-17 victory. His field goal beat the previous mark by seven yards. NBA, Knicks, Nets work with Chinese official to donate 1M surgical masks to New York Update 7:50 a.m. EDT April 5: The NBA and two professional basketball teams are working with a Chinese official to provide 1 million surgical masks to “essential workers” in New York. According to Reuters, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the donation – a collaborative effort involving the league, the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets and Chinese Consul General Huang Ping – Saturday on social media. “New York thanks you,” Cuomo tweeted Saturday afternoon. “We are beyond grateful for this gift of critically needed PPE.” >> See the tweet here As of Sunday morning, New York had reported at least 114,174 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 3,565 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass without public Update 6:52 a.m. EDT April 5: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis took a different approach to his Palm Sunday Mass, typically celebrated outside in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City with tens of thousands of people looking on. According to The Associated Press, the pope celebrated the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Only a few prelates, nuns and guests were invited to attend, the AP reported. As of Sunday morning, Italy had reported 124,632 COVID-19 cases – the third-highest in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy also had logged at least 15,362 deaths, more than any other country. Oprah Winfrey donating $10 million to relief efforts Update 5:45 a.m. EDT April 5: Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is donating $10 million amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said last week. In an Instagram post Thursday, Winfrey praised America’s Food Fund, a donation drive started by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple and the Ford Foundation. According to the initiative’s GoFundMe page, it is currently benefiting two food charities: Feeding America and World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés. “I was struck by the work these organizations are doing, and while everyone’s priority right now is to stay safer at home, I know there are many of us looking for ways to help,” Winfrey wrote. “I believe that America’s Food Fund will be a powerful way to make a difference for our neighbors in need and am committing $1 million to this fund to support those facing food insecurity.” She added that she is “donating $10 million overall to help Americans during this pandemic in cities across the country and in areas where I grew up.” >> See the post here As of Sunday morning, America’s Food Fund’s crowdfunding campaign had raised more than $13 million toward its $15 million goal. Tokyo to report 143 new cases, breaking city’s single-day record Update 4:43 a.m. EDT April 5: Tokyo on Sunday will report 143 new coronavirus cases, topping the city’s single-day record, the Japan Times is reporting. Japan’s capital city has reported more than 1,000 cases of the virus, according to the newspaper. On Sunday morning, Johns Hopkins University reported 3,139 confirmed coronavirus cases and 77 deaths in Japan. BBB warns of fake coronavirus stimulus check, other scams Update 3:40 a.m. EDT April 5: Scammers across the United States continue to trick people in an attempt to steal their money or information, WHBQ-TV is reporting. The Better Business Bureau said that most of the recent scams reported involves the stimulus checks that the government will be sending out to citizens. Here are some of the scams reported to the BBB this week: A phone call saying that student loans qualify you for immediate COVID-19 relief. The woman who reported this scam said she doesn’t have any student loans. Two Facebook messages from someone posing as a government official that that says you qualify for an immediate COVID-19 grant. Both targets were offered grants of $50,000 to $300,000 if they paid an upfront fee by gift cards or wire. One victim said the person communicating with her was posing as William Barr, U.S. Attorney General. A Facebook message from a “friend” that asks you to call a specified number and give your Social Security Number so you can find out when you’ll get your government relief check. The woman who reported this scam said several of her church members had told her about it thinking it was real. A text message asking for your Social Security Number to see if you qualified for $50,000 from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The money was for seniors affected by coronavirus. A text message stating that if you confirmed your bank account information and paid $50, you could get your stimulus check immediately. The FBI has warned of a text message scam that appears to be from Costco offering you $100 to spend there. The FBI says if you click on the link, malware will be downloaded to your device. The Better Business Bureau said to remember: The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get the stimulus money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government does not need you to provide your personal information in order to receive your payment. They will deposit money into the account you gave on your tax return last year or send you a check. Anyone asking for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number is a scammer. The checks are not in the mail … yet. Anyone who tells you they can expedite your check for a fee is a scammer. Never give your bank account information to someone you don’t know. Scammers will call and pressure you to divulge your bank account information so they can steal the money in the account. Look-alikes and sound-alikes aren’t the real thing. Just because the a caller claims to be with the government doesn’t mean he is. Scammers make up official-sounding names to fool you. Phone numbers can deceive. Con artists “spoof” their phone numbers to change what you see in caller ID. They could be calling from anywhere. If you spot a scam, please report it to the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org/scamtracker. HIV drug showing signs of successfully treating coronavirus patients Update 1:44 a.m. EDT April 5: A drug used to treat HIV and cancer patients has shown success in treating some of the most severe coronavirus patients and was just cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start a phase two clinical trial. Much of the work behind the drug is happening in Washington state. The drug was developed by a company called CytoDyn in Vancouver, Washington. It is manufactured by a company in Bothell, Washington, AGC Biologics, which makes a special molecule that is the key ingredient in the drug, KIRO-TV reported. Scientists at CytoDyn figured out it could work to treat COVID-19, and the first severely sick patients who’ve tried it have shown improvement. The drug is called leronlimab, comes in a vial and is a two-shot-per-week dose over two weeks. It is being tried on 10 of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The patients are on ventilators, and some are barely conscious. “The first four patients who were intubated, two were extubated. One of them self-extubated and became alert,” said Nader Pourhassan, the CEO of CytoDyn. Now the two patients are out of the intensive care unit. Pourhassan said when he heard the results, he had to stop what he was doing. “And cried for about five minutes. It was very, very emotional,” Pourhassan said. He said studies show that in the U.S., 85% of COVID-19 patients who end up needing ventilators will die. But the patients who’ve gotten shots of this drug have shown strong results. “All eight patients we’ve analyzed so far – the first eight patients – saw immunological benefits. The FDA immediately allowed us to have a phase two randomized trial. We are initiating that today,” Pourhassan said Friday. He said the results were even seen in COVID patients who only got the shots three days, though it takes two weeks for the drugs to take full effect. Read more here. U.S. cases soar past 312,000, including nearly 8,500 deaths Update 12:53 a.m. EDT April 5: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 312,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 312,146 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 8,496 deaths. Worldwide, there are 1,203,099 confirmed cases and 64,774 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 126,168 reported in Spain and the 124,632 confirmed in Italy. Of the confirmed deaths in the U.S., 3,565 have occurred in New York, 846 in New Jersey, 540 in Michigan and 409 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 114,174 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 34,124, Michigan with 14,225 and California with 13,878. Five other states have each confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Louisiana: 12,496, including 409 deaths • Massachusetts: 11,736, including 216 deaths • Florida: 11,545, including 195 deaths • Pennsylvania: 10,444, including 139 deaths • Illinois: 10,359, including 244 deaths Meanwhile, Washington state has confirmed at least 7,500 novel coronavirus infections, while Texas and Georgia have confirmed at least 6,000 cases each. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington will be returning more than 400 ventilators from the federal government to help the state of New York, which is experiencing a higher number of coronavirus cases. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks,” Inslee said. The ventilators were sent from the Strategic National Stockpile. Washington recently purchased more than 750 of its own ventilators that will arrive over the next several weeks. “Thanks to the mitigation efforts the governor has put in place and the cooperation of Washingtonians, we have seen fewer infections in our communities than anticipated. Our current status allows us to help others who have a more immediate need,' said Raquel Bono, a former vice admiral and director of Washington state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management. There are more than 7,400 confirmed cases and 319 deaths in Washington state, according to The New York Times. In New York state, there are more than 122,500 confirmed cases and 4,159 deaths.
  • Police in a Louisiana city blared a siren signaling the start of curfew -- unknowing that it sounded similar to the alarm in the horror movie “The Purge.” Crowley police sounded the siren Friday night, prompting complaints from residents familiar with the horror franchise, KATC reported. Chief Jimmy Broussard said he was not familiar with the movies. The department will no longer use any type of siren to note curfew hours, KATC reported. The siren sounded eerily similar to the alarm in the movie “The Purge,” where it signaled all crimes, including murder, were legal for a 12-hour period. The Acadia Parish sheriff distanced his department from the noise. “Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” K.P. Gibson said in a statement. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ’Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose.”
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. This is the first known infection in an animal or a tiger anywhere, The Associated Press reported. It is believed Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, was exposed to the virus by an employee at the zoo, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several lions and tigers were showing symptoms of the virus March 27, but only the one tested positive. All of the big cats are expected to recover. The zoo has been closed to the public since about mid-March. Other animals in the zoo are not showing signs of the virus. The zoo on Tuesday shared video on social media of the tigers enjoying a swim. Agriculture officials are warning people infected with the coronavirus to avoid their pets, like they would other people. “Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people,” agriculture officials said in a statement. “Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • President Donald Trump this weekend bluntly warned Americans to prepare for what his team said could be one of the roughest weeks yet against the Coronavirus, as the U.S. has now had four consecutive days with over 1,000 new deaths related to the virus outbreak. 'This will be probably be the toughest week,' the President told reporters at a Saturday briefing. 'There will be a lot of death, unfortunately.' Top federal health officials agreed with that assessment. 'Right now, we're seeing - as well all said correctly - that this is probably going to be a really bad week,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert for the U.S. government. Fauci joined the President in again urging Americans to do what they can to limit their social activities, and thus limit the spread of the virus. 'The only tool - but the best tool that we have - is mitigation,' Fauci told reporters at a Sunday night White House briefing. Fauci reminded reporters that the measures being taken by Americans in terms of social distancing take about two and a half weeks to show up in terms of fewer cases, and a drop in the number of deaths. 'People really understand the responsibility they have for themselves, their family and for the country,' Fauci said at the White House. Fauci's colleague, Dr. Deborah Birx, told reporters that health officials continue to see the most problems in the New York City metro area, as well as in New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole. Birx also name-checked Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington State, Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. - where there have been rumblings in recent days about a possible broader spread of the virus. 'We do see hopeful signs in Spain and Italy. They have completed nearly four weeks of mitigation,' Birx said, telling Americans they should follow the lead of those nations in terms of social distancing, as a way to stop the spread of the virus. During Sunday's briefing, the President repeated his endorsement of the use of hydroxychloroquine - a drug often associated with malaria treatment - to be used against the Coronavirus. 'What really do we have to lose?' the President asked reporters at one point, encouraging people to use the drug, even though it has not been specifically found to stop the virus. 'It may not work, in which case, hey - it didn't work,' the President said at one point. 'And it may work, in which case, it may save a lot of lives.' 'If it does help, great,' Mr. Trump added. 'If it doesn't help, we gave it a shot.' The President's promotion of hydroxychloriquine has drawn concerns from Fauci - who has noted the lack of broader trials - but Mr. Trump has pressed forward with the idea, bolstered by support among GOP lawmakers and conservative media. On Sunday, when one reporter tried to ask Fauci his opinion, the President stepped in and did not let Fauci answer. 'You know how many times he's answered that question?' the President said to a reporter from CNN. '15 times. You don't have to ask that question. He's answered that question 15 times.' The death toll from the Coronavirus in the U.S. will go over 10,000 people on Monday.